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DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

17.06.24 09:35 192Text: NoPain, Bertl (translated by AI)Photos: Erwin Haiden, DT SwissAero is everything - now also for climbers, high-altitude races, and training. Product introduction and kickoff of the long-term review of the 38 mm high lightweight wheels from Switzerland.17.06.24 09:35 298

DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

17.06.24 09:35 298 NoPain, Bertl (translated by AI) Erwin Haiden, DT Swiss
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Aero is everything - now also for climbers, high-altitude races, and training. Product introduction and kickoff of the long-term review of the 38 mm high lightweight wheels from Switzerland.17.06.24 09:35 298

The Swiss wheel specialists are moving fast: Joining the last generation of aerodynamically optimized ARC DICUT wheels with rim heights of 80 mm, 62 mm, and 50 mm are now two new lightweight variants starting at weights of 1,292 g.

With the new rim height of 38 mm, the ARC 1100 DICUT 38 and ARC 1400 DICUT 38 have the lowest and lightest profile in the ARC range. Thanks to a newly developed carbon manufacturing concept and aerodynamic AERO+ optimization, they not only reduce mass but also offer improved aerodynamics with a more pronounced sailing effect and great control, even in strong crosswinds.

We have received an exclusive set of ARC 1100 DICUT 38 for review and found the perfect team for a long-term test with Bikeboarder Bertl and his Cervélo R5.

 Reborn lighter, rise faster. 

Literal translation: Reborn to climb easier.

The Reviewer

Detailansicht

Robert, also known as Bertl, has been mostly a passive participant on Bikeboard.at (user #51 since October 8, 2001) for ages, staying informed about all those things that every hobbyist rider wants but actually rarely needs. Through PM, he regularly sought technical tips, which he claims have served him quite well over the years.

Thus, Bertl became the proud owner and mostly a fan of parts from brands like Rotor, Garmin, Castelli, power2max, Wahoo, Lake, KYZR, and other presented cycling treasures. Even the chain gets waxed, though the Bikeboard editorial team has started greasing again. And because good old Bertl apparently really trusts our expertise, one day in April 2024, he wanted to know which wheelset we would recommend to solve "his problem". He was in for a surprise...

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Technology

Detailansicht

The patent-pending, revolutionary "out of the mold" Carbon rim manufacturing process from DT Swiss offers several advantages. Not only can the rims be produced in one step without cutting the fibers of the outer layers or needing to glue individual components, but this Swiss "in-house" development also makes cosmetic post-processing or a final coat of paint unnecessary. This saves weight and ensures a high-quality finish without air inclusions or uncontrolled resin accumulations.

Moreover, the quality of each rim is 100% tested through all layers, and only rims without any material defects are released for final wheel system assembly. This ensures that the customer is always on the safe side.

Detailansicht

Because the Swiss are convinced that hooked rims are the ultimate solution for roadies when it comes to safety and user-friendliness, the two new ARC wheels are also equipped with flanges. Compared to hookless rims, hooked rims forgive faulty applications in terms of pressure and tire compatibilities more, and the tire holds better on the rim in all situations. In addition, CFD simulations and wind tunnel tests show a clear aerodynamic advantage of wheel-tire systems with hooked rims due to lower air resistance and a more controlled steering moment. The only challenge remaining is the development and production on the part of the manufacturer.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

ARC 1100 DICUT 38 vs 1400 DICUT

  ARC 1100 DICUT 38 ARC 1400 DICUT 38
Hub width Front 12x100 mm Thru Axle
Rear 12x142 mm Thru Axle
Hub 180 DICUT 240 DICUT
Braking system Disc, Center Lock
Freehub body Shimano Road, SRAM XDR (included)
Freehub system 36T Ratchet EXP
Rim dimension 28" 622 x 20
Rim height 38 mm
Internal width 20 mm
Type of rim Carbon, hooked, TLR
Rim hole Presta
Spokes & Nipples T-head spokes, DT aerolite II (front), T-head spokes, DT aerolite® II, DT aero comp II (rear), DT Pro Lock nipples internal Alu, 24 x 2-cross T-head spokes, DT aero comp II (front and rear), DT Pro Lock nipples internal Alu, 24 x 2-cross
Max. system weight: 110 kg
ASTM Class 1
Weight From 1.292 g From 1.361 g
Included accessories DT Swiss TLR rim tape (mounted), DT Swiss Tubeless valves, Valve Guard, SRAM XDR Road freehub included, wheel bag
Price from € 2,499.80 RRP from € 2,049.80 RRP

* Weight specifications without rim tape and without valves

Both the 180 and the 240 DICUT hubs impress with their DT Swiss Ratchet EXP Technology, which makes the freehub body particularly lightweight, stiff, and precise, and allows for easy, tool-free maintenance. Moreover, the hollow-milled tooth discs convert the invested energy with their 36 teeth directly into acceleration.

For both wheels with a 20 mm internal rim width, a tire recommendation of 25 mm to 32 mm width is given*, while they are supposed to perform best from an aerodynamic perspective with 25 mm wide tires at the front and 28 mm at the rear, offering sufficient comfort and puncture protection. This is how the sponsored professionals from Team Tudor Pro Cycling and Uno-X Mobility ride, at least in mountain stages and in one-day races with many vertical meters. The riders particularly appreciate the low weight on the climbs and enjoy the control and safety the wheels provide on fast descents.
On other days, the guys still opt for the ARC 1100 DICUT 50 with Schwalbe's Pro-One TLR tires in 25C at the front and 28C at the rear, with Sealant.

* Technically, much wider tires (up to max. 64 mm) are also possible with a 20 mm internal rim width, but from the perspective of an optimal aerodynamic overall package, they are less sensible.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Aerodynamics - 38 mm represent the ideal balance

In designing the new mountain climbing wheelset, the development team, consisting of Jean-Paul Ballard from SwissSide and specialists from DT Swiss, aimed to find the ideal balance between aerodynamics (higher), stability (wider), and weight (low & narrow).

Ultimately, a rim height of 38 mm with a 20 mm internal width proved to be the optimal compromise, achieving the lightweight threshold of 1,300 g while simultaneously improving aerodynamics.

Drag Performance Compared to Other Brands

In the wind tunnel, the Swiss see their competitive advantage over mountain climbing bikes from other manufacturers confirmed. The lowest air resistance values at the most relevant angles of attack make the new ARC 1100 DICUT 38 a secret weapon on the mountain and help save valuable seconds.

Detailansicht

Drag Performance: The graphic shows that the new ARC 1100 DICUT 38 with the Continental GP 5000s TR tire in 25C has the best aerodynamic performance at 45 km/h across the relevant angles of attack.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

ARC 1100 DICUT 38 vs. ARC 1100 DICUT 50

The lower rim height of the ARC 1100 DICUT 38 compared to the higher ARC 1100 DICUT 50 results in slightly higher air resistance, but reduces the weight. Overall, the aerodynamic optimization is beneficial on fast hills, descents, and flat sections, while 180 grams less mass on steep climbs should be a real game changer.

Detailansicht

All results were measured with the Continental GP 5000s TR tire in 25c at 45 km/h.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

ARC 38 Line Up

The ARC 1100 DICUT 38 wheelset combines low weight and optimized aerodynamics for a rapid ride to the summit. It is available in two model variants as usual, which have almost identical aerodynamics and differ only in the hubs and spokes. In numbers: The 1400s are 69 grams heavier than the 1100s, but they are 450 euros cheaper.

  • ARC 1100 DICUT 38 HRARC 1100 DICUT 38 HR
    ARC 1100 DICUT 38 HR
    ARC 1100 DICUT 38 HR
  • ARC 1100 DICUT 38 VRin the set from €2,499.80 RRPARC 1100 DICUT 38 VRin the set from €2,499.80 RRP
    ARC 1100 DICUT 38 VR
    in the set from €2,499.80 RRP
    ARC 1100 DICUT 38 VR
    in the set from €2,499.80 RRP
  • ARC 1400 DICUT 38 HRARC 1400 DICUT 38 HR
    ARC 1400 DICUT 38 HR
    ARC 1400 DICUT 38 HR
  • ARC 1400 DICUT 38 VRset starting at €2,049.80 RRPARC 1400 DICUT 38 VRset starting at €2,049.80 RRP
    ARC 1400 DICUT 38 VR
    set starting at €2,049.80 RRP
    ARC 1400 DICUT 38 VR
    set starting at €2,049.80 RRP
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

AERO 111 Tires by Swiss Side x Continental x DT Swiss

The new AERO 111 Front Tire is the product of Swiss Side's aerodynamic expertise, Continental's tire know-how, and DT Swiss's wheel competence. Specifically designed aero chambers on the surface create a turbulent airflow that keeps the oncoming air along the Aero Wheel-Tire System longer. The result is the optimization of the sailing effect, which delays the premature flow separation from the rim.

Note to everyone: This Formula 1 technology is not just for professionals or KOM hunters. The tire is designed not only to reduce wind resistance but also to positively influence steering and handling behavior.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Wind tunnel data

Performance at Low Speeds

While other aero tires are usually only suitable for a specific application, higher speeds, and matched rim profiles or rim heights, the AERO 111 has a broader range of use. This is because the sailing effect with the AERO 111 starts at significantly lower speeds. This means that a cyclist with DT Swiss wheels and the AERO 111 tire benefits from a significant improvement in air resistance even at speeds from 30 km/h.

  • Comparison with competitors at low speeds
    Comparison with competitors at low speeds
    Comparison with competitors at low speeds
  • ARC 1100 DICUT 62 with and without AERO 111 front wheel tires at 30 km/h and 45 km/hARC 1100 DICUT 62 with and without AERO 111 front wheel tires at 30 km/h and 45 km/h
    ARC 1100 DICUT 62 with and without AERO 111 front wheel tires at 30 km/h and 45 km/h
    ARC 1100 DICUT 62 with and without AERO 111 front wheel tires at 30 km/h and 45 km/h
  • ERC 1100 DICUT with and without AERO 111 front wheel tire ERC 1100 DICUT with and without AERO 111 front wheel tire
    ERC 1100 DICUT with and without AERO 111 front wheel tire
    ERC 1100 DICUT with and without AERO 111 front wheel tire
  • ARC 1100 DICUT 62 Steering Moment with and without AERO 111 Front Wheel TireARC 1100 DICUT 62 Steering Moment with and without AERO 111 Front Wheel Tire
    ARC 1100 DICUT 62 Steering Moment with and without AERO 111 Front Wheel Tire
    ARC 1100 DICUT 62 Steering Moment with and without AERO 111 Front Wheel Tire
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Performance at Higher Speeds

While the ARC 1100 DICUT 62 wheels already exhibit very good aerodynamic performance, their air resistance at relative inflow angles over 10° and under -10° can be further reduced as a WTS with the AERO 111 tires.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Based on the red curve in the diagram, it can be seen that the sail effect intensifies at angle of attacks over 10° and under -10°. The curves show the air resistance in watts (W) of the moving front wheel and represent the aerodynamic force that the rider must overcome in the direction of travel. Even frontal crosswind conditions do not slow down cyclists - in fact, the reduced air resistance of the WTS leads to a so-called "negative air resistance", so that the entire rider/racing bike system is even propelled. This results in an overall faster wheel/tire system.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

As the 'steering torque' graphs show, an aerodynamically optimized WTS delivers a slightly higher, yet very linear steering torque at both lower (30 km/h) and higher (45 km/h) speeds. This means that the torque felt by the cyclist during steering increases uniformly in side winds, without leading to stronger, unintended steering influences.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Two tire widths

Detailansicht

The AERO 111 front wheel tire is available in widths of 26 mm and 29 mm, making it ideal for all DT Swiss wheels in the Aero and Endurance categories with their various rim heights. For maximum top speeds, opt for the 26 mm wide tire. If you want to cover many kilometers and save valuable energy in the process, the 29 mm tire is the way to go.

The design is somewhat reminiscent of supermoto tires from motorsport. In the AERO 111, 48 small chambers are evenly distributed over the entire surface. DT Swiss refers to these elements as vortex generators, as these features specifically influence and control the turbulence of the airflow on the tire surface of the front wheel.

Tubeless ready: The AERO 111 tire is ideally ridden tubeless on DT Swiss hook rims, allowing the rider to operate the tire at lower, adjusted pressure. The tires are also compatible with 'hookless' rims.

BlackChili: The performance of road bike tires is influenced by traction, rolling resistance, and durability. Improving one tire characteristic can affect the others. Continental's BlackChili Compound responds to this challenge with a blend of synthetic and natural rubber, optimized with carbon black particles for shape and surface characteristics.

Vectran: This puncture protection increases Continental's known puncture resistance without negatively affecting rolling resistance.

By combining these features, the AERO 111 tire offers low air resistance, low rolling resistance, good puncture protection, and exceptional grip in both wet and dry conditions.

DT Swiss ARC 1100 DICUT 38 with AERO 111

Detailansicht

To benefit from an aerodynamic improvement through the AERO 111 tire, it is not necessary to use wheels with high rim profiles. Along with lower rim heights, the reduction in air resistance should be even more pronounced compared to a standard tire than compared to a higher rim profile.

Soon Bertl will receive a 26er AERO 111 front tire and continue his review with the new wonder weapon.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

Kickoff of the Long-Term Review on the Cervelo R5 (by Bertl)

"Well, that paid off again", it shot through my head after I had asked NoPain for his professional opinion on why my high-end racer repeatedly experienced speed wobbles at high speeds.
"I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse. But not over the phone. Come by the NYX Office." That was his response, which he breathed into the receiver slowly and with a certain gravity.


But now to the backstory of the backstory: During a near-death experience last summer, while descending from Timmelsjoch at 80 km/h during the Ötztaler, my Cervélo R5 started to oscillate so much that I suspected a technical problem. However, the thru-axles were rock-solid, the headset had no play, and all the wheel spokes were intact. Perhaps it was also a stupid coincidence, where the angle of attack, wind speed, and air density met unfavorably? Nevertheless, my trust in my 45 mm high aero wheels was gone and I got myself a new, particularly light set of wheels for the Kitzbühel Cycling Marathon. Keeping my rather limited budget in mind, I opted for a relatively inexpensive model, which according to the manufacturer only weighed 1,265 g and was also absolutely reasonable at just about 1,400 euros.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be neither a success at the Kitzbühel Cycling Marathon nor a great fondness for the new wheels. Because even with the significantly lower rims, there remained a feeling of insecurity during fast descents - especially in a lot of wind.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

2023 was shitty

Whether (affordable) "Aero" or (affordable) "Lightweight", it was a year of road bike disappointments. Was it the frame? Was it the tall spacer tower that does my back so much good? Or had I forgotten how to ride a road bike? Even extensive email correspondence with Cervélo and the wheel manufacturers shed no light on the matter. Thus, over the winter, which I spent exclusively on the cyclocross bike or smart trainer, the Cervélo hung lonely on the wall hook, and I secretly hoped that the problem would solve itself. But with the first warm rays of sun in March, as I went on my usual route, it was there again, that mushy feeling at higher speeds. Either I was too heavy at 85 kg for my road bike, or the new rims were too weak. I sought advice.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

2024 has potential

Upon arriving in Wiener Neustadt, my harmless inquiry spontaneously turned into a review project that immediately became real work. "We have procured the new DT Swiss ARC 1100 Dicut 38 Aero wheels for you. These are manufactured at BPM (Biel Performance Manufacturing), the special wheel-building division of the Swiss company, where all wheels for the supported pro teams come from. So we are talking about one of 15 sets that are built by hand with a tensiometer each day and are pressurized 3-5 times, including a final quality control where all spoke tensions in the direction of travel are measured and electronically stored."

I swallowed.

"Lighter, stiffer, and more aerodynamic is not possible. With these, either your speed wobble should be gone or your frame is busted."

I shook his hand and in response to my question on how I could ever reciprocate, received two tubes, two tires, and the floor pump. "Please mount these, we will take photos. Your text is due by June 16th."

 Lightweight without weaknesses? 

We will see...
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

The Assembly

My new test wheels were equipped with 28 tires from Conti Grand Prix 5000 and matching Aerothan tubes from Schwalbe. With the appropriate technique not only did the tires slip over the rim by hand, but the tubes also remained undamaged. For the tire pressure, I opted for 6.0 bar front and rear, which in my view should provide a good compromise between comfort and rolling resistance as well as sufficient stability for fast cornering. We will see.

Detailansicht

Although I'm truly impressed by the quality of the wheels, I must note that I didn't immediately take to the large, silver DT Swiss logo. This is mainly because the even larger Cervélo letters on my frame in white dominate. But never mind, I'll manage the DT Swiss water decals with some acetone. Haha!

But joking aside, it was definitely love at second sight, because in natural daylight, the two differently colored fonts don't bother me that much anymore.

Now let's move on to my first riding impressions.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review

First Riding Impressions

Due to the bad weather, I was only able to properly take out the ARC wheels for the first time last week and I'll get straight to the point: They work like a Swiss Army knife - quietly reliable. When out of the saddle, I can clearly feel that they are much stiffer than my last set of wheels. Uphill, they would take off like a rocket, if it weren't for my aerodynamic front fat spoiler under the jersey. And downhill, they finally provide the secure feeling of riding that I've been waiting for so long, even though I'm still experimenting with the tire pressure.

Although only a few review kilometers have been completed, the log already includes a trip up "Hohe Wand with 1,200 meters elevation". And there, the fast descent, despite the wind, was much more fun than in the past. Yes, these are just subjective impressions from a hobby cyclist. But I won't give the ARC 1100 DICUT 38 any gifts, because at 2,500 euros, they are not exactly cheap.

  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review
  • DT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 ReviewDT Swiss ARC 38 Aero Wheels 2025 Review